When I started the work/ life leader’s series last fall, I could never have predicted the level of insight that leaders would share with us. This project continues to be something that you are asking for. So, I continue to reach out to various leaders in human resources and recruiting to learn as much as possible.
Today, I am privileged to have someone I consider a true friend post his thoughts on the topic. Jason Seiden is not only a kind and generous friend, he is a professional speaker, coach, and author. Jason’s books, ‘Super Staying Power: What You Need to Be Valuable & Resilient at Work and the award-winning How to Self-Destruct: Making the Least of What’s Left of Your Career are two of the most popular business books on the market. Jason is also a family man who takes that role seriously. Be sure to check out his site at https://jasonseiden.com.
So, read on to learn how Jason makes it all work. Then, leave a comment and let us know what you think.
Though to be clear, I revere work/life balance about as much as an atheist believes in God.
So here’s my answer to, “How do I achieve “work/life balance?”
I don’t. I have spent extensive time the past few years doing things to lay the foundation for what I’m doing now (writing/speaking). At the time, these things caused major scheduling conflicts. I did them anyway.
I have no expectations. Rather than try to force things to happen on my schedule, I put myself in the way of opportunity and adjust quickly when it presents itself. I go. I do. I get caught up in things. Periodically I step back to assess my priorities, my strengths, and my interests: where are the themes? I ask myself. My passions find me, but only when I let go of expectation.
I grab moments when I can. My book Super Staying Power has four chapters on how to create “Magic Moments,” those perfect life moments that turn into lifelong memories. The model is real, I use it all the time. I work a lot, so I often invent ways to include my kids in my life during what would otherwise be “dead time.” I don’t worry about blocks of time, I focus on moments.
Hugs, all the time. Love is not an after-hours thing, it is a whenever-I-am-with-someone-I-love thing.
Work, all the time. Work is not an 8 to 6 thing; it is a whenever-I-get-inspired thing.
People come first. Every once in awhile, I’ll take an extended lunch with a friend. Usually, I don’t have time for it. But afterward, I’m always glad I did it.
I’m lucky. One thing my wife has been very clear about since the beginning is that breaking up is never on the table—whatever the challenge, we’ll figure out a way. I wouldn’t dare preach to anyone how to keep a marriage strong; on this score, I just got lucky.
Honesty. A client once remarked during a negotiation that I don’t dance like other vendors, I wrestle. So I do. If there’s an issue, let’s deal with it. I get paid a lot of money to help people figure out how to successfully move through office politics, which get created when people chose not to deal with the underlying issues. I’ve gotten good enough at it to know that the most efficient political maneuver is to hit issues head on whenever possible.
I have a long term perspective. Work/life balance is a lifetime thing, not a day-to-day thing.
I say “yes.“ I know the advice about equating “saying ‘no'” with integrity. I think that’s bullshit. Integrity means owning up to mistakes, not pussyfooting through life for fear of making one. The point at which you are in balance is as close to “over-commitment” as it is to “under-commitment.” What, if you err to one side, you’re OK, but err to the other side, and you suddenly have no integrity? Horse feathers. It’s as important to know how to say “yes” to the things you’d like to do as it is to say “no” to the things you know you can’t. If you start feeling that your integrity is on the line when you talk balance, you’re just screwed.
I manage risks rather than eliminate them. Safety is an illusion. This is life: I will get burned and that there will be tears—no question about it. No need to live in fear of the inevitable! I find a lot of success in life comes from simply accepting the risks.
I have goals. I make sure to do something every day to move forward toward my goals. For instance, I tell people about them. (You can’t help me unless you know what I want. Which right now is as many speaking opportunities as I can land, thanks.)
I don’t hide from my emotions. I use my emotions as guides. I don’t always know what they mean, but I don’t ignore them. When they speak, I listen.
I actively enjoy my life. Some days naturally suck, others are naturally great. But other days, my attitude has a big impact on my surroundings. If I notice people around me all being nasty, I assume that I must not be enjoying myself and that they’re responding to the negativity I’m emanating. Rather than get mad at them, I try to find something around me to appreciate, and I focus on it until I change my mood. When you’re having fun, you don’t worry about balance.
I live in a home, not a house. We have no “no touch” room, no nice furniture, and no rules that prioritize things over people. After all, my couch will not be at my funeral.
There it is: a relatively raw “brain dump” spurred by thoughts of that fantastical myth, “work/life balance.”
I can’t imagine there’s anyone else around whose brain goes to the same place mine does when s/he hears the question, “How do you achieve work/life balance,” and that’s probably a good thing. So take from my musings what you can, laugh at the parts where I’m ridiculous, and find that path that works for you…
Me? I’m off. I’ve got clients to call and a kid downstairs who doesn’t even know she’s got a tickle torture on the way…